Baigan for all seasons, all reasons

Purple veggie

It comes in different colours, shapes and sizes and in Bengali it is called ‘begun’, which means it doesn’t have any nutritional value. But still, brinjal, eggplant or aubergine is quite a popular vegetable.

Not just in Indian cuisine, brinjal is used in various cuisines across the world, namely European, Mediterranean, Turkish, Italian, Lebanese, Greek, Moroccan – you name it and the ‘purple beauty’ is found everywhere.

As brinjals are low in fat and sodium and high in dietary fibre they are frequently used in Chinese dishes also, said Aashita Relan, director of Royal China.

“We have dishes like brinjal hot garlic with sauce, stuffed brinjal and mint pork with brinjal. Low in fat and sodium and high in dietary fibre, vitamins C and B6 magnesium, phosphorus and potassium – brinjal has become quite popular,” says Aashita.

Eggplant can be baked whole, either plain or stuffed. One of the most popular and well-known methods of cooking eggplant is La Parmesan, in which the sauteed slices are layered with tomato sauce and cheese and then baked for about 45 minutes. 

Another dish is Baba Ganoush – a Mediterranean dish. It is so relished that apart from being grilled and served as main course, the vegetable is also ground to a paste and converted to a delicious dip.

This dip can easily be termed as an uncooked version of our baigan bharta. Other than these, other favourite preparations in the Indian kitchen are baigan bharta, beguni (slices of brinjal fried with coated besan), baigan fritters, bharwa baigan, aloo baigan, baghaare baigan a popular Hyderabadi preparation and baigan kalaunji etc.

Chef Jiten from Amour Bistro, says, “Eggplant can be used in various cuisines as it can be flavoured easily with many vegetables. Brinjal can be found in French Ratatouille, Asian stir fries and curries and others. Though being very popular in Indian cuisine, brinjals can be used for stuffing and also minutely chopped ones for gravies.

To prepare, if you want to keep the calories and fat low, cook in broth, wine, or vegetable juice instead of oil or butter and it can be diffused well because of its texture.”To select an aubergine, choose a firm, shiny one with a fresh green cap, and if it feels heavy for its size, all the better.

The colour of brinjal vary from white to deep purple even bordering on black, with the most common hue being purple. The secret is cooking it properly so that it melts in your mouth! Eggplant mixes well with other vegetables too, like tomatoes or mushrooms and teams up well with ground beef, lamb, or tofu. 

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